Boston Terrier Dog Training

Boston Terrier Dog Training

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The Boston Terrier is incredibly intelligent and highly trainable. Learn how to make the most of your little learner here.

Nicknamed the "American gentleman" for their appearance and friendly nature, Boston Terriers not only look charming and polite with their dapper, tuxedo-like coats, but they have the personality and temperament to match. These small, compact dogs are truly an American breed, originating in the city the breed is named for. The breed is highly intelligent and responds well to positive training methods.


Boston Terriers are friendly, people-oriented dogs that thrive on human companionship. They learn quickly and are usually motivated by tasty treats. Teach your dog basic commands such as "Sit," "Stay," "Come," "Down," and "Quiet." When training your Boston Terrier, give a treat only when the dog performs the correct action after you give a command. Accompany the treat with verbal praise. Avoid pinch or choke collars with this breed because you don't need them, and the dogs' sensitive tracheas can be damaged by wrong use of such collars; instead, use a harness, which allows for control without hurting the trachea as a collar can. 


Repetition is a necessary part of training, but if your Boston Terrier performs an action well a few times in succession, move on to something else until the next training session. Always quit after a success, when you and the dog both are feeling good about the work, as Boston Terriers can get discouraged if asked to repeatedly perform an action. Keep the brief training sessions upbeat, and follow any corrections with verbal praise to keep the work positive, but only give the dog a treat for performing the command.

Agility and Obedience

While Boston Terriers are primarily a low-exercise, indoor breed, they can perform well in agility trials. Set up a small agility course in your home or yard, and work with your Boston Terrier to go through the course, step-by-step. This breed also does well in obedience competitions. Tracking training, however, may not be appropriate for this breed because their short muzzles can cause impaired breathing.


Boston Terriers generally have a gentle temperament, and they do well in therapy work for the elderly, hospital patients and children. If you are interested in this work, consider enrolling your Boston Terrier in a therapy-dog training program through an organization like Pet Partners. To become a therapy pet, your Boston Terrier must know basic obedience and show no signs of aggression or fear around strangers. Another group, Therapy Dogs International, certifies handlers and their dogs as teams after the dog passes standards that include obedience training in keeping with the AKC Canine Good Citizen program.


The Boston Terrier has a short muzzle and tends to suffer from brachycephalic syndrome. This condition causes restricted airflow to the upper respiratory system, making it harder for the dog to breathe, especially in warm, humid weather or very cold weather. For this reason, it is best to train your Boston Terrier in an indoor, climate-controlled environment when weather conditions are extreme. When outdoors in warmer climates, give your Boston terrier plenty of water, and keep exercise and training sessions brief - 10 to 15 minutes - to prevent heatstroke.

More on How To Train Your Dog

20 Dog Commands You Need To Know
Top 9 Tricks To Teach Your Dog Now
How To Teach Your Dog To Jump On And Off

References & Resources

American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Boston Terrier
Continental Kennel Club: Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier Club of America: About Boston Terriers
Pet Partners: Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program -- Frequently Asked Questions
Therapy Dogs International: About TDI
Boston Terrier Club of America: The Brachycephalic Syndrome
Boston Terrier Club of America: Performance Events

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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